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Powder avalanche in high risk zone on Mt. Juneau
Published: 03/12/2013 15:37:45
Updated: 03/12/2013 15:47:07

ANIMATION: A series of photos show a powder avalanche on a slope above downtown Juneau, Alaska
ANIMATION: A series of photos show a powder avalanche on a slope above downtown Juneau, Alaska (Tom Mattice / CBJ)

Juneau Rescue Groups Practice Avalanche SAR Response Together

What was described as a "Powder Cloud" avalanche came down the "Behrends Avenue" avalanche path shortly after 9 AM Tuesday morning. The slide stopped short of homes and a highway below. The path is a recognized hazard zone where a large avalanche is expected to eventually occur that puts a neighborhood of about two dozen homes, a hotel, a major highway, and a marina at risk.

Tuesday's avalanche appeared to consist mostly of light snow in the upper meadows of the mountain. As the snow slid down the rocky face, it broke up into an airborne cloud of snow over the 800 foot wide path.

Juneau City Emergency Programs Manager and Avalanche Forecaster Tom Mattice happened to be crossing the Juneau-Douglas bridge at the time and caught the slide in a series of photographs that show the powder cloud following channels in the mountainside before dispersing up hill of the neighborhood.

He warns that there is still lots of snow on the mountain that can still slide down.

In 2012 the city released a study that found the houses below Behrends Avenue slide path to be at high risk of an urban avalanche.

The city posts a daily avalanche advisory on it's website. The advisory listed a "considerable" and increasing danger for Tuesday with an elevated likelihood of medium avalanches. "Please avoid spending time in the urban avalanche paths today. Avoid The Flume Trail. Avoid walking above the gates in the Behrands neighborhood. Avoid walking/jogging or parking along Thane Road" said Mattice in the advisory discussion for Tuesday.

By: Mikko Wilson -